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Scouting groups blast Biggin Hill bosses for ‘pushing them off’ airport site

12:04 09 September 2016

The scouts' flight simulator

The scouts' flight simulator

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The Air Scouts have been based at Biggin Hill for more than 30 years

Scouting groups have blasted bosses at Biggin Hill airport for allegedly pushing them off the site ‘to provide parking for a few more vehicles’.

The Air Scouts have been based at Biggin Hill for more than 30 years, but their lease has been terminated three-and-a-half years early and they now have until the end of the month to leave the site.

Although alternative accommodation was briefly offered to the Air Scouts, they claim the offer was quickly withdrawn once the airport decided the premises could be better used for commercial purposes.

As a result, scouts from Bromley, South London and the Home Counties will be unable to benefit from an introduction to the aviation world or have access to the various historic sites linked to the Second World War.

The scouts also fear their historic Comet flight simulator could be scrapped.

Scouts air adviser Ian Piper said: “We are all very sad that our association with the airport has come to an end. During our time here we have introduced over 10,000 young people to the delights of aviation and hopefully some of them will become our pilots of the future.

“We were prepared to meet all the stringent health, safety and security conditions put forward by the airport, on top of our own existing comprehensive care arrangements. Sadly this was not enough to secure our position at the airfield.

“Right now, we are all hoping for a solution that will prevent our historic Comet flight simulator from being scrapped. The flight simulator allows young people, many from underprivileged backgrounds to experience a unique flight experience by piloting a rare 1950’s airliner.

“This also poses questions to the viability of the other smaller businesses located on the airfield. We also feel that it is essential that the remaining historic WW2 structures at Biggin Hill be listed as quickly as possible to ensure they are protected for future generations.

“If there is anyone who thinks they could offer us assistance, we would welcome hearing from you.”

A spokesman for Biggin Hill Airport said: “For the last two decades the airport has given premises to the Scouting movement to have a facility at Biggin Hill for a highly subsidised rent. The lease on their current facility is at an end.

“We did offer alternative accommodation but for various reasons to do with the Air Scouts specific requirements and their need to substantially alter the building in question, we were unable to agree terms with them.

“The Air Scouts at Biggin offers its services to visiting Scout units from around the south east and London and amongst other things has, in the past, offered young people access to the live side of the Aerodrome for tours of various historic sites normally inaccessible to the public.

“Whilst this arrangement continued for many years and perhaps worked adequately when Biggin Hill was primarily a light aircraft base, it does not fit with the modern world of health and safety and the necessity of heightened airport security requirements that go hand in hand with a modern business and general aviation Aerodrome. Whilst we are always sensitive to the need to inspire youngsters, our primary role is to provide connectivity to London, attract inward investment and create high value jobs and apprenticeships.

“We remain very happy to arrange airfield visits with interested parties, including the Scouts, given the appropriate notice, but these will be arrangements made directly with Biggin Hill Airport and not with third parties.”

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